Entries Tagged as 'Windows 7'

Windows 7 – 32-bit or 64-bit?

So you’ve got your new copy of Microsoft® Windows 7 and you’re ready to install it on your computer… but you have to decide whether to use the 32-bit install DVD or the 64-bit install DVD.

There’s obviously special cases that might force you to use one version or the other, but if that’s the case you should have the question eating at you.

First thing is does you processor and motherboard support 64-bits?  If it doesn’t, then the choice is easy because you don’t have one — you’ll be using 32-bits.

Second, is your computer limited to 2GB or 4GB of memory?  If it is, then the answer is simple — you’ll want to use 32-bit.

Third, does you computer have 4GB or less or memory?  If it does, then you have to ask yourself if you’re going to upgrade your computer soon.  Take a look at memory prices, it may be more feasible to actually buy a new computer with a fast processor, better video, etc.  But that’s a decision you’ll have to make.  If you’re not likely to put more than 4GB of memory in your computer you’ll want to use 32-bit.

If your computer will have more than 4GB of memory you will likely want to use 64-bit.

These guidelines are only that, and your specific needs may have many more complex requirements — but don’t deceive yourself into thinking you need to put a 64-bit version of Windows 7 on a computer that will never be able to really take advantage of it; you will in all likelihood decrease your performance.

Originally posted 2009-10-26 01:00:59.

Windows 7 – Which edition is right for you?

So you want to upgrade to Microsoft® Windows 7, but you’re not sure which version is the right choice…

Essentially there are only three choices for consumers in the US this time: Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate… and certainly you can go through the matrix and figure out what’s best, but here’s my advice.

If your computer won’t be used in a business setting where it’s necessary that you join a domain (Active Directory Service) then you may not need anything more than Home Premium.  If you have ADS on your home network, consider therapy.

If your computer is not capable of hardware virtualization (you can use the detection tool below) then you won’t be able to use the Virtual XP mode of Professional or Ultimate.

If your motherboard doesn’t have the TPM (Trusted Platform Module) you won’t be able to use the enhanced security of Professional or Ultimate.

The only other useful feature in Professional/Ultimate that’s not in Home Premium is the ability to be an RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) server that would allow remote access from another machine.  All versions support remote assistance requests.

There’s absolutely no reason to buy a higher end version than you can use; it will not run any faster or better.  The version you install will be locked to the hardware you install it on, and it’s hard to move it to another computer (it might be impossible).

Don’t waste your money by stroking your ego — buy the version that fits your hardware and your needs best; and for most people that’s going to be Home Premium.

Microsoft® Hardware-Assisted Virtualization Detection Tool

Originally posted 2009-10-25 01:00:38.

Virtulization, Virtulization, Virtulization

For a decade now I’ve been a fan of virtulization (of course, that’s partially predicated on understanding what virtualization is, and how it works — and it’s limitation).

For software developers it offers a large number of practical uses… but more and more the average computer user is discovering the benefits of using virtual machines.

In Windows 7 Microsoft has built the “Windows XP” compatibility feature on top of virtualization (which means to use it you’ll need a processor that supports hardware virtualization — so many low end computers and notebooks aren’t going to have the ability to use the XP compatability feature).

While Windows 7 might make running older programs a seamless, you can (of course) install another virtualization package and still run older software.

Which virtualization package to choose???

Well, for me it’s an easy choice…

  • Windows Server 2008 on machines that have hardware virtualization – HyperV
  • Windows 7 on machines that have hardware virtualization – Virtual PC
  • All others (Windows, OS-X, Linux) – Virtual Box

Now, the disclaimers… if I were running a commercial enterprise; and I didn’t want to spend the money to buy Windows Server 2008, Microsoft does offer Windows Server 2008 – Virtual Server Edition for no cost (you really need one Windows Server 2008 in order to effectively manage it — but you can install the tools on Vista if you really don’t have it in your budget to buy a single license).

And no, I wouldn’t choose Linux OR OS-X as the platform to run a commercial virtualization infrastructure on… simply because device support for modern hardware (and modern hardware is what you’re going to base a commercial virtualization infrastructure on if you’re serious) is unparalleled PERIOD.

If you’re running Vista or Vista 64 you may decide to user Virtual PC ( a better choice would be Virtual Server 2005 R2); but Virtual Box is being actively developed, and it’s hardware reference for virtualization is much more modern (and I feel a better choice).

To make it simple… the choice comes down to Microsoft HyperV derived technology or Virtual Box.  Perhaps if I were a *nix biggot I’d put Xen in the loop, but like with so many Linux centric projects there are TOO MANY distributions, and too many splinter efforts.

One last note; keep in mind that you need a license for any operating system that you run in a virtual environment.

Originally posted 2009-08-12 01:00:34.

Restoring Windows Boot Manager

If you’ve tried Linux (or another operating system) on your PC, and you’d like to return to just the Windows boot manager (and perhaps remove the other operating system) or if the boot manager that was installed is no longer working here’s a quick way to recover.

First, find your Windows installation disc (or an equivalent Windows installation disc).

Boot into install; on the first setup screen hit Shift+F10, that will open up a command prompt.

Execute the following commands:

  • bootrec /FixMbr
  • bootrec /FixBoot

Now reboot…

The Windows boot manager should be in control — you may need to correct the BCD entries, but generally those will be fine.

You may also want to review: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/927392

Originally posted 2013-12-30 12:00:31.

Windows 7 – Multiple Displays

I have multiple displays on both my “high end” workstations.  The one I’ve been testing Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on happens to have two nVidia 9800 PCIe display adapters and three 22″ LCD display panels (I plan on hooking up a 37″ LCD TV to the forth output when I upgrade my 42″ Plasma TV).

The three panels worked great with Vista Ultimate x64, and I didn’t have any problem doing a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate x64 on the machine.  The monitors didn’t default to the same arrangement they did on Vista — but it was easy to reorder them.

One problem I’ve noted (and yes we can partially blame this on the PC BIOS) is that if I boot the machine without any of the monitors powered up, I get a different primary monitor and non of the other monitors are active (I can force them active).

This problem is all to reminiscent of the SATA drive problem I found installing on multiple drives — but there’s really no apparent way to force Windows 7 to always pick the same default monitor (whether they are on or off).

So yet another feature that worked fine in Vista that’s broken (or at least changed) in Windows 7.

Make sure you have all your monitors on; or at least your primary monitor; when you boot up Windows 7!!!

 

NOTE:  This problem appears to be related to multiple identical display adapters, and appears to not be an issue if you just have two displays on a single card.

Originally posted 2009-11-19 01:00:03.

Office Applications for Windows 7

Microsoft has announced the release of Office 2010 first quarter of next year available in both 32-bit and 64-bit; and I’m sure it will be a fine application suite; I’m sure it will also be expensive.

I tried Office 2007 when I first moved to Windows Vista, but I found it very difficult to figure out how to do even simple tasks; so I stuck with Office 2003.

Now I’m at the point that I’m reconsidering my needs in an office suite, and I’m finding that I really only use very basic features, and I value a consistent, simple interface over most anything else (well, that’s assuming that the software works).

A good friend of mine has been using OpenOffice for quite sometime now, and he’s been extremely happy with it.

I’d looked at OpenOffice a few years ago, but I’ve never really been a fan of any software written in Java that requires the JRE (I’ve always found it to be sluggish).

Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say.

I downloaded OpenOffice (for Windows) and installed it on my work station.

My initial test was to open up some of the more complicated documents I had; not that I really have any documents that are that complicated.  It worked, it worked well, and it was fast.

I played with it a little more, and then I decided to take a look at how much disk space it consumed… it was tiny compared to Office 2003.

Then I decide to create a few new documents and spreadsheets with it — no problem, it seemed to do everything I needed.

WOW.

I just don’t know what else to say… why would I pay Microsoft for a huge suite of office applications that I rarely use; and use only a small fraction of the features???

OpenOffice is available for a number of operating systems, and works fine on Windows 7.

A good way to save some money on your computer needs is switch over to OpenOffice when you upgrade to Windows 7.

OpenOffice.org

Originally posted 2009-11-15 01:00:48.

Microsoft Vista System Update Readiness Tool

If you’ve had problems updating your Microsoft® Windows Vista system to SP2 you may want to download the System Update Readiness Tool and run it even if you intend to skip SP2 and move directly to Windows 7… apparently upgrades to Windows 7 may fail if your Vista system is in a state where SP2 didn’t install correctly.

My advice, save yourself a headache by downloading and installing the System Update Readiness Tool — at least if you end up having to call Microsoft support it’s one less thing they will have you do before someone actually pays attention to your problem.

 

 
32-bit
System Update Readiness Tool (x86)

64-bit
System Update Readiness Tool (x64)

Originally posted 2009-10-11 01:00:53.

Windows 7 – N

If you’re in the United States it’s unlikely you’ll find a Microsoft® Windows 7 N version on a retail shelf; but if you’re in Europe you might.

The N version of Windows was originally released late in the XP era in order to satisfy an EU order that Microsoft offer it’s customers a version of their operating system without their instant messenger and media technologies.  I believe the sales numbers indicated that no one in the EU really wanted such a version; but it was a good way for the EU to rape Microsoft for a sizable cash settlement and create a pain in the butt for consumers.

If you are forced to buy an N version (it’s the same price as the non N version — but it might be the only thing sitting on the shelf) and you actually want to use Microsoft Media Player (or at least install the Microsoft CODECs) you can do so by downloading a nearly 300MB file (there’s one for 32-bit and one for 64-bit).

And thank the EU for making your life difficult.

Media Feature Pack for Windows 7 N and Windows 7 KN (KB968211)

Originally posted 2009-11-07 01:00:20.

Windows 7 – Install With Multiple Disks

I set out this evening to install Windows 7 Ultimate on one of my “high end” desktops, and like all my desktops it has multiple SATA drives running in AHCI mode (after all, it’s “high end”).

No matter how I setup my drives in the BIOS or with the SATA cables I kept getting the larger (newer) drive as DISK0 in the Windows 7 install and the smaller (older) drive as DISK1.

Finally I started doing some reading on the Internet, and I’m not the only person who’s noticed this behavior.  In fact, some say it’s random.

Based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve read I suspect that Microsoft’s EFI BIOS implementation re-polls [discovery] the drives and ignores what the PC legacy BIOS tells it… and the first drive to respond is DISK0.  In my case the drive I want to be DISK0 is probably predictably slower than the drive I want to be DISK1, so I see consistent results.  However, if the drives are very similar (or identical) you could see either become ready first (a micro-second counts).

This is obviously a bug in Windows 7 (didn’t happen in Vista; but apprently is did happen in Vista SP1 and SP2), and can cause all kinds of problems down the road.

What’s the best way to deal with it?

Open up your case and unplug all but the first drive, do your installation, then power up the drives one-by one (if you have hot-swap capability with SATA you don’t need to power down, if you don’t you will have to power down to plug in each drive in turn).

You can easily change the drive letters in disk manager; and once Windows tattoos the drives they should be fixed in order in disk manager.

If you have a motherboard that uses the Intel chip set you may want to download and install the Intel® Matrix Storage Manager for Windows 7.

If PCs used EFI BIOS (like Macs) this probably wouldn’t be an issue, but since Microsoft uses a soft EFI BIOS to boot, they should have tested this better, and they should have fixed it (there are several people who indicated they reported this behavior during the beta testing).

While Windows 7 might be a nice overhaul of Vista; it’s not without it’s problems, and maybe the whole PC heritage is beginning to be too antiquated to keep updating; perhaps it’s time for a new design.

Originally posted 2009-11-12 01:00:38.

Windows 7 User Account Flaw

I’d say this is just an issue with Windows 7, but it’s actually been present in Windows and Windows Server since Vista…

Plainly put, the organization of information in Windows can become corrupt to the point that Windows is unable to create new users.

Really?

Windows (based on NT) is over a decade old… and to have such a basic flaw seems un-thinkable!

Let’s see, to create a user…

  1. Check to make sure the log-on identifier is unique;
  2. Create a security descriptor;
  3. Create a user home directory;
  4. Copy user default template files to the home directory;
  5. Apply the security descriptor to the user home directory and files; and
  6. Update the user database.

Seems pretty straight forward to me.

And not only is it an essential function of an operating system, but it’s one that we should have every expectation shouldn’t ever fail — and if it does, there should be a procedure to fix it.

Oh, there are procedures to fix it — in fact that are so many procedures you could probably re-install the operating system a hundred times before trying all of them… and there are more than one “Microsoft Fix-It” automated fixes as well, and trust me — your odds of winning the lottery are probably better than one of them actually resolving your issues.

All I can say is that regardless of the potential Windows might have, Microsoft’s actions indicate that it’s not intended to be anything more than a toy operating system — and never was.

Originally posted 2013-09-03 12:00:00.